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Subhash Kak (Hindi: सुभाष काक Subhāṣ Kāk) (born March 26, 1947 in Srinagar, Kashmir) is an Indian American computer scientist, most notable for his controversial Indological publications on history, the philosophy of science, ancient astronomy, and the history of mathematics. In computer science he has published material related to cryptography and quantum information.


Indological Publications

Kak's writings concerning the astronomy of the Vedic period in his book The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda (1994) back "Indigenous Aryans" ideology, questioning mainstream views on the Indo-Aryan migration and the nature of early Indian science. His chronology and astronomical calculations have been opposed by several Indologists (such as Michael Witzel[1]) and historians of science,[2] but found a supporter in German Indologist Klaus Klostermaier".[3] Kak's interpretation has been included in recent overviews of astronomy in the Vedic period in India[4] and the West.[5]

The Astronomical Code of the Rigveda

The Astronomical Code of the Rigveda (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1994; revised and enlarged edition, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2000) claims regularities in the organization of the Rigveda, connecting the structure to certain numbers in the astronomy-based ritual of the five-layered brick altars of the Vedic times.

Kak's archaeoastronomical claims have the effect of significantly extending the Vedic period, postulating the arrival of ethnic Indo-Aryans to the 7th millennium BC. This claim is in contradiction with mainstream Indology and historical linguistics[6] and science historians[2]

Kak arranges the number of hymns in each book of the Rigveda as follows, and compares the arrangement to a Vedic fire altar:

 RV 10:191      RV 9:114
 RV 7 :104      RV 8: 92
 RV 5 : 87      RV 6: 75
 RV 3 : 62      RV 4: 58
 RV 2 : 43      RV 1:191

He then computes various sums and subtractions within the diagram, finding numbers related to the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and the sidereal periods of various planets.

Kak's method depends on the structure of the Rigveda as redacted by Shakalya in the late Brahmana period as opposed to the intrinsic content in the oldest portions of the text. Specifically, Witzel (2001) believes that Kak's approach relates to the organizations of the Rigveda into mandalas ("books"), a process of redaction undertaken by the shakhas long after the composition of the individual hymns (the samhita prose period, dating to well within the Indian Iron Age), rendering the attempt to date the text in this flawed. Other scholars have discredited Kak's claims, finding them to be contrived. Nanda (2003:112) in passing opines has said that Kak's method as "is breathtakingly ad hoc and reads like numerology 101."

In Search of the Cradle of Civilization

Kak co-authored In Search of the Cradle of Civilization (1995) participating in the controversy in Indian politics surrounding Indigenous Aryans and the Out of India theory.[7]


Kak's book The Asvamedha: The Rite and Its Logic (2002) provides a symbolic interpretation of the Vedic Ashvamedha (horse sacrifice) rite.[8]

Indian politics

Kak takes a staunchly conservative stance politically, supporting Indian "nuclear deterrance" against China, opposing what he calls "socialist ideas" in the Indian constitution, the "Soviet-style ideas of the Congress party" and "terrorists from across the [Pakistani] border".[9] Alan Sokal sarcastically labeled Kak "one of the leading intellectual luminaries of the Hindu-nationalist diaspora", in the course of a discussion in which Sokal discusses pseudoscientific aspects of Hindutva ideology, under which he includes of some of Kak's work.

Information theory

Subhash Kak completed his Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1970. He taught there and also at Imperial College London, Bell Laboratories, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)..In 1979 he was tenured as Delaune Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. In 2007, he was appointed head of the Computer Science department at Oklahoma State University[10].

His research in the fields of cryptography, random sequences, artificial intelligence, and information theory have been published in peer reviewed journals. He proposed a test of algorithmic randomness,[11] and a type of instantaneously trained neural networks (INNs) (which he and his students have called "Kak neural networks"). He claims to be amongst the first to apply information metrics to quantum systems.[12]

Kak has argued that there are limits to the intelligence machines can have and it cannot equal biological intelligence.[13] He asserts that

machines fall short on two counts as compared to brains. Firstly, unlike brains, machines do not self-organize in a recursive manner. Secondly, machines are based on classical logic, whereas Nature's intelligence may depend on quantum mechanics.
[Further], if machines with consciousness are created, they would be living machines, that is, variations on life forms as we know them. Second, the material world is not causally closed, and consciousness influences its evolution. Matter and minds complement each other.[14]

Kak has proposed the use of recurring decimals for error correction coding, cryptography and as random sequences.[15]

"Kak neural network"

The Kak neural network is an instantaneously trained neural network that creates a new "hidden neuron" for each training sample, achieving immediate training for binary data. The training algorithm for binary data creates links to the new hidden node that simply reflects the binary values in the training vector. Hence no computation is involved.[16]

"Kak's three stage protocol"

"Kak's three stage protocol" is a protocol for quantum cryptography suggested by Kak.[17]


Kak claimed to be the first to have used the term "quantum neural computing",[18] taking a Quantum mind position not unlike that notably proposed by Roger Penrose in The Emperor's New Mind which was published in 1989. He sees the brain as a machine that reduces the infinite possibilities of a "quantum-like universal consciousness", which is a consequence of the "recursive nature of reality".[19]

Kak's "philosophy of recursionism" is expounded in his books The Gods Within, The Architecture of Knowledge, and The Prajna Sutra. Kak contributes to the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture.

In The Architecture of Knowledge, Kak talks about quantum mechanics, neuroscience, computers, and consciousness. The book is one of the twenty planned monographs in the multi-volume series on the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture under the general editorship of Professor D. P. Chattopadhyaya.

The book attempts to provide philosophical connections to contemporary science that reach back not only to the Greek but also to the Indian tradition.

The book seeks to find a consistent framework for knowledge in logic, purpose, and awareness, and sees science as representation and transformation of machines, of reality, and of life. Reality is seen in different layers, and

"with the dual aspects of purposive and reflexive behaviour in each layer, we see parallels in the structures in quantum theory, neuroscience, and computers. The overarching unity is provided by human consciousness. As conscious subjects, we examine the universe through the agency of our minds. In our strivings to describe the outer world using formal knowledge, shadows of the architecture of the inner world are also unveiled."[20]

Twin paradox

In February 2007 a Louisiana State University (LSU) press release[21] asserted that Kak had "resolved the twin paradox". The actual paper[22] states that the twin paradox has "various 'resolutions' that are not in consonance with each other",[23] while in state-of-the-art physics, there is nothing unresolved about the so-called twin paradox, rendering any claim to have "resolved" it meaningless.




  • The Conductor of the Dead, Writers Workshop (1973) ASIN: B0007AGFHA
  • The London Bridge, Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1977.
  • The secrets of Ishbar: Poems on Kashmir and other landscapes, Vitasta (1996) ISBN 81-86588-02-7

See also


  • Meera Nanda, Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India, Rutgers University Press (2003), ISBN 0813533589.
  • Alan Sokal, 'Pseudoscience and Postmodernism: Antagonists or Fellow-Travelers?' in: Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public Routledge (2006), ISBN 0415305934.


  1. ^ Michael Witzel, "Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts", Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, Vol. 7 (2001) issue 3 (May), §28.
  2. ^ a b [1]Kim Plofker, Review of Kak (1994), Centaurus 38 (1996), 362-364
  3. ^ Klostermaier's remarks on the second edition's frontspiece of "The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda," Munshiram Manoharlal, 2000.
  4. ^ In Govind Chandra Pande, "The Dawn of Indian Civilization". CSC, New Delhi, 2000.
  5. ^ In S. Wolpert (ed.), "Encyclopedia of India." Scribner's, 2005.
  6. ^ Michael Witzel, "Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts," Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, Vol. 7 (2001) issue 3 (May), §28
  7. ^ Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press, 2001.
  8. ^ The Asvamedha: The Rite and Its Logic, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, (2002) ISBN 81-208-1877-6.
  9. ^ 2002 interview [2] [3]
  10. ^ Departmental directory, OSU
  11. ^ Terry Ritter, Randomness tests
  12. ^ S. Kak, On quantum numbers and uncertainty. Nuovo Cimento, 34B, 530-534, 1976.
  13. ^ S. Kak, Active agents, intelligence and quantum computing. Information Sciences, vol. 128, 1-17, 2000.
  14. ^ S. Kak, Artificial and biological intelligence. ACM Ubiquity Volume 6, Issue 42, 2005.[4]
  15. ^ S. Kak, Encryption and error-correction coding using D sequences. IEEE Transactions on Computers, C-34: 803-809, 1985.Watermarking using decimal sequencesDecimal sequence based random number generator
  16. ^ S. Kak, New algorithms for training feedforward neural networks. Pattern Recognition Letters 15, 1994, pp.295-298; S. Kak, On generalization by neural networks. Information Sciences 111, 1998, pp. 293-302. [5] [6] [7]
  17. ^ S. Kak, “A Three-Stage Quantum Cryptography Protocol,” Foundations of Physics Letters 19 (2006), 293-296. Trusted certificates in quantum cryptography Implementing the three stage protocol Classical authentication aided three stage protocol
  18. ^ In Advances in Imaging and Electron Physics, vol. 94, pp. 259-313, 1995
  19. ^ Karl H. Pribram and Robert King (eds.), Learning and Self-Organization, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996, 185-219.
  20. ^ The Architecture of Knowledge(2004, ISBN 81-87586-12-5) (page 299)
  21. ^ LSU professor resolves Einstein's twin paradox
  22. ^ Moving Observers in an Isotropic Universe [8], May 2006, published in International Journal of Theoretical Physics.
  23. ^ backing up this claim with reference to C.S. Unnikrishnan, On Einstein's resolution of the twin clock paradox, Current Science 89 (2005)

External links





Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Subhash Kak (born 26 March 1947) is an Indian American philosopher, poet, and scientist.


  • Once scientists and scholars invest parts of their career in support of a paradigm, it becomes a sort of a self-betrayal to abandon it. ** "The honey bee dance language controversy," The Mankind Quarterly - Summer 1991 - Pages 357-365.
  • People embrace false magical theories in the hope something good will come out of them. In the most extreme of these, good comes out of them only at the end of this life, in paradise. ** The Prajna Sutra.
  • Man is a mimic animal, happiest acting a part, needing a mask to tell the truth. ** The Prajna Sutra.
  • Gods have many faces. ** The Prajna Sutra.
  • The body is like the wife to the spirit. The two must cohabit to create new forms, but their pleasures rarely coincide. ** The Prajna Sutra.
  • When the mind grasps the universe, the senses retreat. ** The Prajna Sutra.
  • Men and women in their mutual attraction are driven to the very emptiness they are trying to avoid. ** Recursionism and Reality.
  • If the heart sorrows over physical loss, the spirit rejoices over hope of understanding. ** Recursionism and Reality.
  • Europe has resurrected its pagan gods. ** Recursionism and Reality.


  • History is scraps of evidence joined by the glue of imagination.
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